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Close to reality Inauguration of new test facility for environmentally-friendlier turbines

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More performance, less noise and reduced fuel consumption these are the goals of the further development of existing and new gas turbines to be used in energy and aeronautics. Together with the industry partners Alstom and Rolls-Royce, DLR enlarges its infrastructure in Cologne to develop environmentally-friendlier gas turbines. After a construction time of 18 months and an investment of some 50 M, the new high-pressure combustor test facility (HBK5) will start operation at the end of November 2014.

Whether for aeronautic drives or for the power generation in power plants - gas turbines are a part of everyday life even if this is not very present for everyone. Turbine technology has constantly been improved during the past decades. Emissions were reduced while performance was increased. To further continue this development, processes in the fuel burning must be further understood. With this knowledge, influences such as the spraying of fuel in the combustor as well as the geometry of the combustor as such, can be managed even better.

The collaboration between research and industry in this area is designed long-term: HBK5 shall be operated for 30 years, some 50 M were invested. Alstom and Rolls Royce add the longstanding experience in the construction of reliable and powerful gas turbines to the partnership and guarantee a rapid market introduction of new technologies. DLR has the respective infrastructure and more than 50 year experience in the area of drive engineering as well as in the development of testing and instrumentation methodologies.

The fact, that two well-known companies such as Alstom and Rolls Royce invest into" the infrastructure at the DLR-site in Cologne and show an interest in a 30-years partnership with us, is a testimony of the confidence which we have gained and that we have chosen the right paths in the alignment of our research, said Klaus Hamacher, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of DLR.

Developments for energy technology 

The high-pressure combustor test facility will be key in the further development and testing of the most modern power plant technology for Alstom. The facility is designed in such way that the combustor systems of todays and future gas turbines can be tested under realistic conditions and can be optimized over the entire operational envelope. In addition, the facility will allow the burning of different fuel qualities and fuel types. The choice of location at DLRs facilities in Cologne (Germany) helps take advantage of existing infrastructure. Moreover, the existing partnership with DLR ensures a high level of test operation expertise and access to related research activities. The cooperation with the Rolls-Royce as an industry partner will also allow a high utilization rate of this large facility.

The new facility allows testing of world-leading combustion technologies with the target to achieve highest efficiencies and ultra-low emissions for flexible gas turbines. It will become a corner-stone in validating the next generation gas turbines and will benefit from the technological expertise of DLR in testing and instrumentation methodologies. Our commitment manifests our excellent collaboration with DLR, and to our R&D activities in Germany and Europe. Today, the facility has already started operation and is delivering its first results for our key development projects, said Charles Soothill, SVP Technology & CTO Alstom Thermal Power.

New generation of aeronautic drives

With the Trent XWB, Rolls-Royce has developed the worlds most efficient large civil aero engine. It supports the ambitious targets for even more environmentally friendly propulsion systems which were set by the European aviation industry within the framework of Flight Path 2050.  A key element for this is the development of new concepts for combustion chambers. 

In order to further develop the results which have been achieved with core engine prototypes, tests that simulate real flight conditions are necessary. In the new high temperature and high pressure test bed HBK5, it will be possible for the first time to test a full annular ring of a combustion chamber outside an engine under most demanding conditions regarding inlet pressure, inlet-/outlet temperatures and air flow mass, as during the take-off of a plane.

The reproduction of the conditions during engine service enables the development of new methods for cooling the walls of the combustion chamber or of new injection nozzles for atomising the fuel even finer. By this, various emissions, including nitrogen oxides, can be further reduced. In addition, the testing of new materials and manufacturing processes for future combustion chambers helps to optimize the lifetime of components and thus to reduce the life cycle cost for our customers.

The test-stand will be used for future civil aero engine development programs of Rolls-Royce and complements the other test-facilities of the company, such as the new development test bed for civil large engines in Dahlewitz, which was officially opened earlier this month.

Rob Savidge, Director of Engineering Systems and Services at Rolls-Royce, said: The test bed will enable us to test combustion chambers under service representative conditions - before we begin with the real engine and flight tests. It therefore makes an important contribution to make future engines of Rolls-Royce even more environmentally friendly, and to achieve our vision of better power for a changing world.

About Alstom

Alstom is a global leader in the world of power generation, power transmission and rail infrastructure and sets the benchmark for innovative and environmentally friendly technologies. Alstom builds the fastest train and the highest capacity automated metro in the world, provides turnkey integrated power plant solutions and associated services for a wide variety of energy sources, including hydro, nuclear, gas, coal and wind, and it offers a wide range of solutions for power transmission, with a focus on smart grids. The Group employs 93,000 people in around 100 countries. It had sales of over 20 billion and booked 21.5 billion in orders in 2013/14.

In Germany, Alstom has a workforce of 8,000 people who are working on 21 sites in power generation, energy transmission and rail infrastructure.

About DLR 

DLR is the national aeronautics and space research centre of the Federal Republic of Germany. Its extensive research and development work in aeronautics, space, energy, transport and security is integrated into national and international cooperative ventures. In addition to its own research, as Germanys space agency, DLR has been given responsibility by the federal government for the planning and implementation of the German space programme. DLR is also the umbrella organisation for the nations largest project execution organisation. DLR has approximately 8,000 employees at 16 locations in Germany: Cologne (headquarters), Augsburg, Berlin, Bonn, Braunschweig, Bremen, Goettingen, Hamburg, Juelich, Lampoldshausen, Neustrelitz, Oberpfaffenhofen, Stade, Stuttgart, Trauen, and Weilheim. DLR also has offices in Brussels, Paris, Tokyo and Washington D.C.

About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc 

  1. Rolls-Royces vision is to create better power for a changing world via two main business segments, Aerospace and Land & Sea. These business segments address markets with two strong technology platforms, gas turbines and reciprocating engines.
  2. Aerospace comprises Civil Aerospace and Defence Aerospace. Land & Sea comprises Marine, Nuclear & Energy and Power Systems. On 6 May 2014 Rolls-Royce announced it had signed an agreement to sell its Energy gas turbine and compressor business to Siemens for a £785m cash consideration. On completion, expected before the end of December 2014, Rolls-Royce will receive a further £200 million for a 25 year licensing agreement.
  3. Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 120 countries, comprising more than 380 airlines and leasing customers, 160 armed forces, 4,000 marine customers, including 70 navies, and 1,600 energy and nuclear customers.
  4. Our business is focused on the 4Cs:

    Customer placing the customer at the heart of our business
    Concentration deciding where to grow and where not to
    Cost continually looking to increase efficiency
    Cash improving financial performance.

  5. Annual underlying revenue was £15.5 billion in 2013, around half of which came from the provision of aftermarket services. The firm and announced order book stood at £70.4 billion at 30 June 2014.
  6. In 2013, Rolls-Royce invested £1.1 billion on research and development. We also support a global network of 31 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls-Royce engineers at the forefront of scientific research.
  7. Rolls-Royce employs over 55,000 people in 45 countries. Over 17,000 of these are engineers.
  8. The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills. In 2013 we employed 379 graduates and 288 apprentices through our worldwide training programmes. Globally we have over 1,000 Rolls-Royce STEM ambassadors who are actively involved in education programmes and activities; we have set ourselves a target to reach 6 million people through our STEM outreach activities by 2020.